Calling for some tried and true mama advice today…I have an eight month old who refuses to sleep. Seriously, she will not sleep. I will admit partial responsibility for this, as I am someone who always has nursed my babies to sleep and subscribed to the “nurse on demand” philosophy with my first daughter, thus creating an expectation that babies do not ever sleep through the night.
But then my good friend Cayce loaned me a book “The Sleep Lady” and I was introduced to the idea that lo, and behold, perhaps some babies do sleep though the night, and maybe, just maybe, they don’t need to eat every three hours!
So I was determined to start off better the second time around with Mya. I would not nurse on demand, I would teach her good sleeping habits from the beginning. Unfortunately, Mya had other ideas. From birth, she fought sleep with every fiber of her little being. Ben and I endured countless sleepless nights, and eventually found a little repose by letting her sleep in her carseat or even, much to my profound shame, her swing. She literally just would not sleep, or even relax. The book talks about ensuring that babies are laid down when they are “still drowsy, but awake” to teach them how to put themselves to sleep. A theory that completely makes sense to me and one I wholeheartedly supported. But there is no such as drowsy with Mya. She is either fully alert and ready to party, or completely exhausted and throwing a temper tantrum.
And so it has continued. I am utterly crushed that I have never been able to snuggle and rock Mya to sleep. With Ada, she would nurse and happily snuggle with me in bed, we could nap together, or rock for hours. Mya will have none of that. She pushes off of me, cranes her heard around, wants to see everything that is going on, is afraid she will miss out one second of fun with her older sister. Ben and my mom have been the only ones who can rock her to sleep. For some reason, with me, she knows she can fight me. It’s devastating. There is nothing I love more than snuggling with a sleeping baby.
During the day, I sometimes have success with getting Mya to sleep for a nap after nursing her, but a lot of times she has to cry herself to sleep because she will just not relax. I’ve tried the going in and reassuring her thing, but that only fuels her anger, as she now not only suspects I am refusing to pick her up, but seeing me provides confirmation of such indignation.
Last week, I stated an earnest quest to stop the nighttime madness. I was determined to let her learn to put herself to sleep and not feed her at all, especially now as she eating “real” food at meals. And so my friends, she has been up every night for hours at a time. Last night was truly miserable. From 4:00 AM to 6:00 AM wide awake and fighting, awakening her sister, complete and utter anger at me, her mother, for not feeding her. And the silent anger of my husband next to me projecting the thought of “Why don’t you just feed her? 10 minutes and we can all get some sleep” like a dagger at me. And then there is the persistent nagging guilt of wondering if she is genuinely hungry, even if I fed her a mere three hours ago…
Any advice out there for a baby who will not sleep? Do I continue to let her cry it out? Is there a chance that the “reassuring” pat on the back every 20 minutes will not work for every baby, as it only makes her even more upset when I leave?